Duke Energy grant supports math education

USF St. Petersburg is pleased to announce it has received a $127,230 contribution from Duke Energy to support SunBay Digital Mathematics, a collaboration with SRI International and Pinellas County Schools researching new ways of teaching middle school math. The gift is a part of the USF System’s ongoing $600 million USF: Unstoppable Campaign.

The gift will support middle school teachers seeking graduate certification in digitally enhanced mathematics education. The certification is a five-course graduate program unique to USF St. Petersburg that increases a teacher’s depth of knowledge in math concepts and the use of technology.

“We are grateful for the continuing support Duke Energy has provided for USF St. Petersburg’s effort to improve math education for middle school students and their teachers,’’ said Vivian Fueyo, Ph.D., professor of Childhood Education and principal investigator for SunBay Digital Mathematics.

“Duke Energy is proud to partner with USF St. Petersburg on this important project,” said Alex Glenn, Duke Energy, state president – Florida. “The research underway on middle school math holds great promise for the future of STEM education.”

 About Duke Energy

Duke Energy Florida, a subsidiary of Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), provides electricity and related services to approximately 1.7 million customers in Florida. The company is headquartered in St. Petersburg, Fla., and serves a territory encompassing more than 20,000 square miles including the cities St. Petersburg and Clearwater as well as the Central Florida area surrounding Orlando. Duke Energy Florida is pursuing a balanced approach to meeting the future energy needs of the region. That balance includes increased energy-efficiency programs, investments in renewable energy technologies and a state-of-the-art electricity system.

About the USF: Unstoppable Campaign

The USF: Unstoppable Campaign is a comprehensive fundraising effort by the University of South Florida System to celebrate the energy, vision, and future of one of the country’s most exciting and engaged universities. Our people and programs, our ideas, our research, and our solutions comprise an ambitious plan to enhance healthcare, science, technology, education, business, the arts, and global partnerships.


Teacher Leaders Institute to focus on reforming schools from within

Two national leaders in education reform will speak at USF St. Petersburg June 13-14 during the Teacher Leaders Institute, designed to inspire classroom teachers to reform their schools from within.

Alan Sitomer, Ph.D., California’s 2007 Teacher of the Year

Alan Sitomer, Ph.D., California’s 2007 Teacher of the Year

Alan Sitomer was California’s 2007 Teacher of the Year and is author of Teaching Teens and Reaping Results in a Wi-Fi, Hip-Hop, Where-Has-All-the-Sanity-Gone World: Stories, Strategies, Tools and Tips. Sitomer speaks at 9 a.m. June 13. His speech is titled “Better to Light a Candle than to Curse the Darkness: Successful Strategies for Embracing the Changes in Literacy.”

Pedro Noguera, Ph.D., the Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education at New York University

Pedro Noguera, Ph.D., the Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education at New York University

Pedro Noguera, Ph.D., the Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education at New York University and a regular commentator on CNN and National Public Radio, is author of The Trouble with Black Boys…and Other Reflections on Race, Equity and the Future of Public Education. His research focuses on the ways in which schools are influenced by social and economic conditions. Noguera speaks at 1 p.m. June 14. His talk is titled, “Creating Conditions for Teaching and Learning: What It Takes to Leave No Child Behind.”

Both talks will be in the ballroom of the University Student Center, 200 6th Ave. S., St. Petersburg, and are free and open to the public. Audience members can ask questions through a Twitter feed projected on a large screen.

“We are excited to present these dynamic speakers and hope they will inspire teachers and the general public to take the lead in transforming public education,” said Bill Heller, Ph.D., dean of the USF St. Petersburg College of Education.

The Teacher Leaders Institute is for teachers interested in collaborating with colleagues in Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough counties to help improve their schools.

Among the highlights of the two-day institute is a June 13 panel discussion titled, “What I Do to Make It Work for Students:  Highly Performing Teachers Share Their Stories. The discussion will be led by Megan Allen of Tampa, the 2010 Florida Teacher of the Year and a graduate of the USFSP College of Education. Panelists include Katherine Basset, the 2000 New Jersey Teacher of the Year and Director of the National Network of State Teachers of the Year; Ryan Kinser of the Center for Teaching  Quality; Claire Riddell, a Duval County first-grade teacher;  and Michael Flynn, the 2007 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year and associate director of the Math Leadership Program at Mount Holyoke College.

For more information about the institute, contact Ramona Forbes at (727)-873-4155 or email forbesr@usfsp.edu


Kimberly Kopnitsky placed second in the education category.

Nine students participate in first Statewide Graduate Research Symposium

Nine USF St. Petersburg students participated recently in the first Statewide Graduate Student Research Symposium that brought together graduate students from across Florida to showcase their work.

USFSP Masters of Reading Education student Kimberly Kopnitsky placed second in the education category for her research project, “The Effects of Peer Editing and Response in a First Grade Writer’s Workshop.”

Eight of Florida’s 12 public universities participated in this first-ever event hosted by USF Tampa.

While the primary purpose of the symposium was to showcase the impressive research by graduate students at Florida universities, it also gave the participating students and faculty members a rare chance to network and to discuss possible research collaborations.

“We are extremely proud of our USFSP team,” said Norine Noonan, regional vice chancellor for academic affairs, who served as a judge at the symposium.

Other judges from USFSP were Anna Lewis, Ph.D., visiting associate professor of science education in the College of Education; and Alison Watkins, Ph.D., associate dean for graduate and certificate programs in the College of Business.

The other USFSP students participating were:

  • Masters of Environmental Science Student Rita Beckhorn.
  • Masters of Business Administration student Christopher Brown
  • Masters of Liberal Arts student Veronica Carroll
  • Masters of Environmental Science and Policy student Lauren Drakopulos
  • Masters of Arts in Reading Education fall 2012 graduate Brian Flores
  • Masters of Liberal Arts fall 2012 graduate Jennifer Probst
  • Masters of Environmental Science student Lindsey Schmidt
  • Masters of Arts in Reading Education student Allison Wickman


Students participating in the 2012 Pinellas County History Fair at USF St. Petersburg.

Pinellas County History Day returning to USF St. Petersburg

Hundreds of students from across Pinellas County will converge on USF St. Petersburg Saturday for the 16th Annual Pinellas County History Day.

This is the fifth year in a row the event has been held at USF St. Petersburg, which co-sponsors the event with Pinellas County Schools.

USFSP professors and graduate students serve as judges, including College of Education Dean Bill Heller, Ph.D.; Visiting Assistant History Professor David McMullen, Ph.D.; Associate Journalism Professor Robert Dardenne, Ph.D; Daun Fletcher, Florida Studies program assistant; and Florida Studies graduate student Karen Rhodes.

Elementary, middle and high school students display their class projects, papers and multi-media presentations in five categories: exhibits, performances, documentaries, research papers and websites.

Heller said the event always renews his faith in public education. “As an educator it really elevates my feeling about how well things are going in the schools,” he said. “There is so much talent and capability in the schools. The general public doesn’t get a sense of what these kids are learning. I just wish these presentations could be televised so the general public can see what these kids are learning.”

It also shows off USF St. Petersburg to hundreds of potential students and their parents, he said. “We can be real ambassadors for the university,” he added.

About 3,000 students participate each year in school-level fairs, and the 600 top performers advance to the countywide event at USFSP. From there, winners advance to the state history fair in Tallahassee. Top winners from the state are then sent to the National History Day competition in Maryland. The theme for 2013 is “Turning Points in History: People, Ideas, Events.

“Seeing kids running around with shirts that say ‘history geek’ really excites history professors,” said McMullen, the faculty coordinator for the event.

McMullen will present the Florida Studies Prize for the best project dealing with Florida

David Carr

David Carr

history and the David Carr Prize for the project demonstrating the best research. The late David Carr was a longtime member of the USFSP history faculty who was responsible for bringing the history event to the campus.

Reading and Literacy Studies AnnMarie Gunn, Ph.D.

Education professor wins national award for emerging scholarship

Assistant Professor of Reading and Literacy Studies AnnMarie Gunn, Ph.D., in the College of Education has won the 2013 Dr. Carlos J. Vallejo Memorial Award for Emerging Scholarship.

The award is given annually by the American Educational Research Association to one scholar nationally who demonstrates a commitment to underserved communities and to producing scholarship that advances multicultural and multiethnic education.

Dr. Gunn, who earned her Ph.D. from USF, has redesigned literacy education graduate coursework at USF St. Petersburg to incorporate readings, activities and assignments within a multicultural framework. She also has collaborated with other researchers to investigate cultural autobiographies as a tool to promote cultural awareness in and published her findings through numerous publications and conference presentations.

She has received two university grants related to multicultural education and the Florida Holocaust Museum. One grant is directed toward development of multicultural children’s literature resources for USFSP teacher education literacy coursework. The second focuses on investigating the impact of multicultural literacy coursework and civic engagement with the Florida Holocaust Museum.

“I am humbled to receive this award and honored to be a part of the larger academic community that situates multicultural education as an essential framework in teacher education,” Dr. Gunn said. “As an Assistant Professor, I feel very supported by my colleagues, the college, university and the community which enables me to conduct the research in the spirit of this award.”

Norine Noonan, Ph.D., vice chancellor of academic affairs, said the award is another example of the strong scholarship at USF St. Petersburg. “We are so pleased that Dr. Gunn’s work has been recognized nationally with this prestigious award,” she said.

Elizabeth Gelman, executive director of the Florida Holocaust Museum, said Dr. Gunn’s students benefit from her commitment to multicultural education. “We applaud Dr. Gunn’s use of multicultural resources to broaden her student’s literary frame of reference as well engage them in the important civic issues of today,” she said.